Come At Me, Coach: What Is Wrong With This?

Lolz, bro.  The shirt pictured above is funny and you can purchase it from our friends over at Life As RX.  Why is an elliptical like a fat chick?  They’re fun to ride, but you don’t want your friends to catch you on one.  Buh dum bum tish!  Wait a second: what, exactly, is wrong with the elliptical?  Besides the fact that you look stupid when using it.  While this post begs for ridicule, I’m looking for those who are smarter than me to answer a stupid question I have about CrossFit. 

This one in particular, has puzzled me for years.  I’ve never asked because I didn’t want to get cockpunched and chased out of the box.  Why, in CrossFit, are ellipticals something that would inspire such mockery (besides the negative connotations associated with the average user of the machine)?

"Fuck! There's no cup holder for my peanut butter smoothie!"

 Let me try to anticipate some knee-jerk responses to the question:

1.  “Ellipticals are globo-gym bullshit.”  True, but there’s got to be more to it than that.  You can find barbells and weights in a globo-gym and we use those, don’t we?  That coach just got his Level 1 Cert.  Awwww, aint he cute?

2.  “We don’t do cardio.”  Huh?  Then what the fuck is ?  Credit goes to Drywall for pointing out that gem.  If Brian McKenzie can bring variance and high intensity to a treadmill, he can do it for an elliptical.  That guy could program for anything, even a unicycle.

Varied and Intense? Maybe. Gonna get you laid? Not a chance.

3.  “There is a lack of functionality in the movement”.  Now we’re talking.  Wait, C2 Ergs have been ordained by CrossFit to be functional because it’s… like rowing a boat?  So glad I do CrossFit in case I have to get away from zombies and all I have is a fucking crew racing boat.  Airdyne bikes have migrated from MMA gyms to some CrossFit affiliates recently.  Airdynes are like riding bikes but with broken handle bars.  How functional is that?  The elliptical mimics Cross Country Skiing (not really, but whatever).

"It's like downhill skiing, but boring and requires no fucking skill"

If you guys can’t help me out on this, I’m going to have to do research in the mainstream fitness realm.  That should be worth a chuckle.  Here we go: In the December 2008 issue of Men’s Health they caution the user by quoting a study that found the ellipticals over-estimated the number of calories burned in a workout by 31%.  Oh dear!  Now I’m going to have to switch to skim milk in my Starbucks Suckacockalatte!

The hottie on the right: NOT concerned with the elliptical calorie-burning conspiracy.

I’m lost.  In CrossFit we make fun of cardio machines and their users like the gerbils on wheels that they are.  At least they aren’t on the couch.  In the words of Brian Wilson of Potomac and Patriot CrossFit, “What’s the best workout program?  Whichever one you will do.” 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to quit making fun of globo-gyms and ellipticals.  I just want to make sure I have sturdy reasoning for doing so.  The self-righteous douche-baggery and elitist attitude of our community serves none of us and inspires the mainstream to discredit the value of our program.  While that may not matter, let’s put ourselves in-check and have solid proof if we choose to poke holes in their methods.

There's always a better way to make fun of shit.

Why do I really believe an elliptical machine will never be seen in a CrossFit box?  Those fuckers cost 2,000-5,000 bucks per unit.  No owner would shell out that kind of scratch when a C2 costs around $1,000.  Beyond that, it seems as though we call ellipticals gay just because we can.  Whatever your reason, speak up.  Coaches are always prompting you to post to comments, now a client is turning the mirror on them. 

Post logic to comments.

  1. #1 by Drywall on July 25, 2011 - 10:59 AM

    You can’t get hurt on an elliptical. Duh.

  2. #3 by Brian PCF on July 25, 2011 - 11:26 AM

    You’ve been sitting on “Starbucks Suckacockalatte” just waiting for a topic like this. BZ.

    • #4 by EPIC on July 25, 2011 - 11:31 AM


  3. #5 by Florentino on July 25, 2011 - 11:45 AM

    Best reason I can come up with: It’s harder for people to check out your sweet magenta Lululemon tube top, and your $100 Weebok/XFit “Bad Ass” socks.

  4. #6 by GSS BK on July 25, 2011 - 12:33 PM

    its gay bc people think spending an hour on an eliptical is a sufficient workout and by doing so 3-5x a week they’re gonna get cut. oh but i do intervals – horseshit intervals. crossfit metcons are intervals on steroids. it would take a week plus of intervals on an eliptical to come close to the work being done throughout one crossfit metcon; maybe.

    • #7 by Tom K on July 25, 2011 - 3:07 PM

      To say that the elliptical is gay because of “user error” is like saying that the deadlift is gay because I have poor form and therefore don’t get results (except for injuries). So we first need to separate a lack of knowledge about ways to improve fitness versus faulty equipment.

      As for your “horseshit intervals” comment, this can be said about anything. If I bust my ass to do legitimate intervals on an elliptical then I am crushing myself just like I do in a WOD. Conversely, if I cheesedick a WOD then the work exerted may actually be lower than one of those “horseshit intervals” you mentioned. Do I chessedick WODs? No, but if I did it would be user error, not the WODs fault…so don’t blame the elliptical for uneducated people using it.

  5. #8 by Pat Burgess on July 25, 2011 - 1:01 PM

    I personally will never get on an elliptical. Although, I pt a class of students every morning. I use crossfit style workouts (combat conditioning) and use the elliptical daily for injured students…depending on thier status. While I agree that it is doubtful to ever see them in a typical crossfit box, i think they do have a place in programming around injuries. I also used them in high intensity intervals with a small group that i thrashed to make weight on the last day of a command weigh in. On the other hand people who think they can go to the gym a few times a week and spend long periods on the elliptical are naive fuck tards, if they think it will get them in great shape.

  6. #9 by cyn on July 25, 2011 - 1:04 PM

    I have to take the opposing view here… yes.. ellipticals ARE boring.. and no.. they are not the same high-intensity workout that was done at any CF box around here. HOWEVER… its like when you are driving down the road and see someone easily 100lds overweight jogging in ill-fitting pt gear of brand-x….it is easy enough to ridicule their current shape.. but we should instead be celebrating their effort. Ellipticals aren’t a perfect answer for fitness… but effort is effort.. and it beats the hell out of the couch.
    That said.. may I never be seen on one again!!! 😉

  7. #10 by Carol Hawkins on July 25, 2011 - 1:17 PM

    Looking forward to some of the more experienced crossfitters/coaches responses. Good read, funny as hell as usual. Although my feeling is that if you are an elliptical user, trying to change your life style to include exercise and better nutrition it does beat doing nothing and eating crap! My neighbor does step classes, she is really trying to lose wt…..can I make fun of her for that!!?? I am interested in hearing some researched based answers from the pros! My 2 cents!

    • #11 by Tom K on July 25, 2011 - 3:15 PM

      Can you make fun of your neighbor? Yes. Absolutely, yes. You can make fun of any one and any thing will little to no reason for it. Welcome to America.

      The argument of losing weight is where we (as lazy Americans) say one thing and mean another. Why does she want to lose the weight? Because she wants a lower weight or she wants to be healthy or she wants to look better?

      I am in total agreement with Brian PCF in believing that “the best workout program is one that you will do.” What he left out is: but I will make fun of you for being different than me.

  8. #12 by Andy G. on July 25, 2011 - 1:26 PM


    Let me start by saying Im sitting at Starbucks with my black coffee laughing my ass off in such obnoxious manner the vegan hippie chick behind the counter had to turn up the “Lillith Fair” 2006 mix cd she has playing. Ok let me jump right into this one now….

    First off I will say the elliptical gets trashed for a number of reasons in the CrossFit community but none more than because of what it represents. The elliptical, in theory, could be used by a Crossfit Athlete to conduct a high intensity workout. Sure it does not sit atop the higherarchy of functional movements but unlike its more excepted distant cousin the airdyne, it represents all that is lame about the American fitness industry. You see the airdyne is cool because we see it on pre fight hype shows. I see Tito Ortiz going ballistic at his homo-erotic fight camp in Big Bear on an Airdyne right before he gets knocked the fuck out by a better fighter(should have used the elliptical bro), and Im like shit yeah. The airdyne is where its at. Im not saying the airdyne isnt hard. Im just saying if you went all out of an ellipitical for 10 minutes you could ellicit a similiar response.

    But the elliptical sits in the cardio section of every stupid globo-gym, hotel cardio room, soccer mom’s garage, and apartment complex’s fitness room in America. Its a staple in “Cardio Cinema” rooms and is often the epicenter of casual globo-gym gossip sessions. The casual gym goer loves using it for a quick cardio session or warm-up. “Heath” the bleach blonde personal trainer and amatuer bodybuilder with a fanny pack and no bodyhair loves warming his clients up on the elliptical right before an intense bicep/tricep workout of cable curls and dumbbell kicks, which by the way costs the client 80 dollars a session and CrossFit is expensive….but I digress.

    To avoid getting too long winded on the post I will just leave you with a list of reasons why you will never see an elliptical at CTO or in my own programming….

    1. Running, jumping rope, swimming, biking, pogo sticking, sex and rowing are all superior forms an conditioning. They require more coordination and bodycontrol. I much rather use my training time with these movements

    2. The ellipitical, through personal experience which I am not proud of is a very unnatural movment that did not bode well for knee health or running form.

    3. Way too expensive for a machine that is inferior to running for free

    4. I look like a douche bag on one….even doucheir when trying to get an intense workout on one.

    5. My son looks up to me. If he saw me on an elliptical how could he ever respect me

  9. #13 by Tim on July 25, 2011 - 1:46 PM

    No chick has ever looked at dude killing the elliptical and thought, “I’d like to sit on that dude’s face.” THAT’S why the elliptical sucks.

  10. #14 by Little Sean on July 25, 2011 - 8:27 PM

    Tim is genius.

    But to pile on a bit Andy is right about the abnormal range of motion. I group stairclimbers, ellipticals, and treadmills together in the sense that all three machines attempt to recreate a natural movement and do a terrible job of it. No one who has ever been on any of them has said’ wow thats just like the real thing’. Rowers are generally closer to rowing on the water in terms of range of motion than any other machine.

    Riding an elliptical is like drinking through a straw, no matter how big and badass you are before you look like you know how to suck while you are doing it.

  11. #15 by droszyk on July 25, 2011 - 9:02 PM

    Elliptical machines are just the easy way out. There is nothing hard about jumping on an elliptical and pushing start. Though a rowing machine is basically the same idea, to mimic the movement of another exercise, its not easy. The vast majority of people in America want fast and easy, which boggles me as to why I don’t have more dates…. But like most everything in life, good things take time and hard work to accomplish. To be financially successful you need to take the time to go to school, study, write a billion long page thesis on how earlobes affect sperm count, then find a job and start at the bottom to work your way up. Not easy, takes time. Same with exercise and fitness. Everyone who and embraced crossfit understands the work involved and what needs to be done to look good naked. We need to fucking sweat our asses doing high intensity ‘switch flipping’ workouts that are not easy. Elliptical=easy. Crossfit=badass.

    • #16 by Tom K on July 26, 2011 - 8:12 AM

      I think you are over simplifying the Elliptical vs CrossFit argument. Yes, getting on an elliptical and pressing start may lead to the world’s longest and most boring workout, but if Brian McKenzie can uproot the LSD-mentality of running then maybe there is hope for the Elliptical. Turn that Chariot up to 11 (re: Spinal Tap) and flip the switch. I bet you can get a hell of a workout just like a MetCon AND with a benefit of being varied (since I think it is a safe bet saying that none of us rock out the Elliptical on the regular).

      Conversely, if I put as much effort in to a MetCon as most people put in to the Elliptical then I will have a 45-minute Fran time (non-Rx, obviously).

      I totally agree with what Sean and Andy are saying and I will take it one step further: If the Elliptical had an adjustable stride length like an ERG has adjustable resistance, then it might find more use, but a one-size-fits-all mentality doesn’t work in the world of Elite.

  12. #17 by BOYCE on July 25, 2011 - 11:12 PM

    Unless you’re strictly reduced to “non-impact” training (probably because you’re fat), then go swim in the ocean Shamu!!!
    It’s funny Epic wrote this, just last week I was outside doing some Crossfit while waiting on a friend who was finishing running on the treadmill. I got on the elliptical solely because I’ve never been on one. I felt like a complete asshole. I thought people were looking at me like I just parked in a handicapped spot.

  13. #18 by gssbk on July 25, 2011 - 11:33 PM

    wow people are getting personal. just a bit funny.

  14. #19 by EPIC on July 26, 2011 - 10:29 AM

    I’m really digging everyone’s input on this. As Andy points out, it is too expensive while running is free. Boyce hit it solid with ‘if you have to go low-impact, go swim’. I will maintain that you can absolutely bring intensity and variance to something as embarrasing as an elliptical. The impetus for this post is my current injured status. My rehab protocol has me using the exercise bike and I watch people on the elliptical. I used an elliptical four years ago (before CrossFit) during a knee injury and was able to perform very intense intervals. I don’t see myself using one ever again, but I think it does represent the mainstream which we have chosen to distance ourselves from.

  15. #20 by Russ on July 27, 2011 - 1:58 AM

    i just want to thank you guys for providing me entertainment out here lol

  16. #21 by Walter Ezell on July 27, 2011 - 10:25 AM

    Andy hit the nail on the head.

    If you can turn a rock into a functional movement, and further more make it an intense functional movement, then you can do the same with the elliptical. It just comes down to weighing the pros and the cons against other “similar” forms of training. You can elliptical, or you can run. Running is cheaper and more functional. Going onto the c2 rower, the nearest similar workout is rowing a fucking boat. Well, guess you better go grab a fucking boat and toss it into the ocean. C2 is cheaper and more practical. C2 and running win over boat and elliptical.

  17. #22 by stephen seyller on July 28, 2011 - 10:13 AM

    all great points. However – if it’s between someone putting in 3 hours a week on the elliptical or sitting on their butt eating cheetos -the elliptical wins. For everyone else – there’s crossfit

  18. #23 by Jason (New Zealand) on August 16, 2011 - 12:18 AM

    Epic, Not sure if you read past comments or not but we are having a debate at Crossfit Dunedin. We are a new box and the leaderboard is getting filled up quickly with some big PR’s. But we have one spot left on the leaderboard and nobody can come up with “the” wod to put in that spot. Most of us think it should be a wod that everyone in the gym is capable of doing RX’ed like “Kelly”. Another group thinks that “Amanada” should be up there. Both are great Wods but Amanda is not achievable by many at the gym. Only about 4 of us can do muscle ups and a few of us can full snatch 135 pounds. And an even smaller number that could do both for 9-7-5 reps. Another option was to make up a wod to put up there but as you can see coming to a decision is not easy. We would love to hear your opinion on this. THanks for your time mate and keep the articles coming. Oh, how is tackle ball going?
    Cheers, Jason

    • #24 by EPIC on August 16, 2011 - 12:09 PM

      My opinion doesn’t really count as I’m not a member. But I don’t hold back on opinions so – Amanda. That’s because it’s my favorite wod. Putting a wod that everyone can do RX’d isn’t a bad idea, but as a leaderboard, it will likely be dominated by firebreathers who do everything RX’d anyway. This would nullify the point. You could put something monostructural like a 5k run or 2km row, but that’s slightly boring. My vote is for Amanda. Thanks for question, and keep spreading the word on this site out there in New Zealand!

  19. #25 by SBRen on August 24, 2011 - 3:04 PM

    As for the “injured – go swim” mentality. I have a shoulder injury and cannot swim. But I do bike, on a real bike and I also run. Had no idea what an Airdyne was.. Now I know and wow.. all of my bikes are weeping. One of my mentors has major bone degeneration in his feet and he uses the ellip for zero impact and it works for him. He also lifts like a badass. I think if you are using it for rehab, it’s one thing. For me, it would never be a central tool to fitness anymore than a treadmill is. But I have used treadmills and I have no problem with them. My real issue is getting variety. I find that most of the people I know who use ellps as their primary “machine” or “mode” are missing out on doing other things. But movement is movement. I used to weigh almost 300 pounds. I never used an ellip because 1/ I love my knees too much and 2/ I have major “fat girl” stigma about them. I just put on my shoes and made myself run. But again, any workout you do is better than none. So there’s y perfectly useless comment for ya! 😉

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